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That's Ammo-ray(gun)!

Being a fan of obscure holidays, they tend to serve as inspiration for my games from time to time. This time around, it's National Archery Day which has been celebrated on the second Saturday of May since 2015. I wouldn’t want to shaft this particular holiday, so in this post we'll take aim at an aspect of gaming that can sometimes get ignored: ammo. If you’re going to be playing a tabletop game involving combat, there's a good chance it will feature some sort of ranged weaponry. In a fantasy setting, this will likely take the form of longbows, crossbows, and slings (and perhaps even the occasional flintlock), along with their respective ammunitions: arrows, bolts, and bullets (or "ball" if you're a Flintlock Aficionado). Of course, you might have thrown weapons such as spears, axes, and knives, as well. A more modern setting might use grenades and any number of guns with a variety of projectile types. Something in a sci-fi or futuristic genre will probably
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Hooked with a Feeling: Reaching Prospective Players through Media

“Oh man, it was so cool when…” We’ve all heard it from our friends and the people around us when talking about the media they’re engaging with, whether it be movies, books, TV, comics... you name it. For those of us who run tabletop games, words like these tend to get our GM-senses tingling. But how do you go about “making the pitch” to get them interested in joining your game? How can you take the things you know people like and build interest through them, even if your game isn’t officially attached to that media property? After all, “I heard you like explosions…” only tends to work on other GMs! - B   A: You'll probably find that there's a decent system for whatever media you overhear someone showing an interest or appreciation in. Spy movies, action flicks, fantasy shows, space operas... they all have their own systems, sometimes multiple, and often even attached to the specific property they’re interested in. It won't necessarily be what you want to run a game in, tho

Pew-Pew Zoom: Star Commander Elite Wing

Forty-five years later, it's easy to take Star Wars (1977) for granted. Sure, as film scholars both armchair and professional love to point out, George Lucas wore his influences on his oversized Tattooine-robe sleeve: 1930s serials, Akira Kurosawa, spaghetti westerns (particularly ones also influenced by Akira Kurosawa), teenage hot rod racing films, WWII fighter pilot movies... but nothing had ever blended it all together like that. And while the joints between the various segments seem obvious now (thankfully, Marcia Lucas is finally getting credit for her part in turning her husband's unfinished mess of a movie into a cultural-defining juggernaut), at the time it was largely seen as a non-stop thrill ride of excitement and energy. Previously, we've talked about the influence (and very lucky timing) Star Wars would have on the nascent video game industry and how, within a year of its release, space games had become the dominant force in arcades as fans could experien

It's Dangerous to Go Alone... Take These.

Close to the start of the pandemic, we talked a little bit about playing RPGs alone . However, we all know that TTRPGs tend to be a team sport. It doesn’t matter if you like to meet in person, or at a virtual tabletop, this is typically a game played with friends. Where do you start though? If you’re a newcomer to the hobby, either as a player or someone interested in running games, the number of options can be overwhelming. What game do you start with? Who should you play it with and how do you find them? Do you need your own dice? What are you not even thinking of? Help! Hopefully we can answer a few of these questions and put you at ease, even if you’re only hopping out of your current familiar game genre and into a new one. So here are our tips for those of you just starting out, and for you veterans of the table who are trying something new.  - A A: Whatever your reason, you’ve decided to try your hand at a tabletop role playing game. Maybe you have a story you’re interested in te

Willy Wonka - Cartoonish Supervillian or Time Lord?

Every spring, in at least some of the religions practiced in the States, brings yet another holiday full of varied confections: Easter. For some reason, perhaps it’s the candy content or the garish colors associated with the holiday here, Willy Wonka & the Chocolate Factory seems to be the movie that most often comes to my mind. While there are other pieces of media that are more “classically Easter” entries, Willy Wonka just seems to belong here. Perhaps there’s something to those giant eggs, as well. Whatever the reason, it’s in our common consciousness around this time of year, and that has had me thinking about a couple of common internet theories. One common thought is that the titular character Willy Wonka is an incarnation of Doctor Who ’s (only semi-titular) protagonist, the Doctor. The other would have you believe that Willy Wonka is a cartoonish supervillian originating in the DC universe, most likely one of Batman’s adversaries. For this post, let’s go over the arg

Whose Labyrinthine Maze is This, Anyway: Dungeon Design and Cultural History

Dungeon . The word with significant historical connotations and some modern ones we won’t get into here, but to enthusiasts of tabletop roleplaying, it means something very specific: it’s ⅓ of the name of the most successful and influential RPG of all time, after all. (We’ll discuss the significance of the “&” another time. (and maybe the other D too - A) ) Early D&D materials refer to “the underworld mazes” (note the preposition, dungeons are considered a default part of the setting), and offer some advice on making them (somewhat) plausible, but never directly consider the societies that built them. While many pre-published adventures do include some information describing long-gone inhabitants, incorporating this kind of detail into original worlds can help create a detailed, rich setting. This week, we thought we’d talk about how to make dungeons and other ruins feel like places that lost peoples made and lived in, and how to share these details in your play sessions. - B  

Open Discussion: Conversations with NPCs

It doesn’t matter if your games are at a tabletop or one in the digital realms of consoles and PCs, at some point in your role playing adventures you'll wind up interacting with a Non-Player Character. Unless you’ve a really weird game going on, you’re probably dealing with multiple NPCs regularly.  Non-Player Characters are the denizens of our imaginary worlds that bring them to bustling life. Even the most mundane outline of a person rounds out the settings we create in ways we don’t often consider. As the blog has discussed before, a lot of storytelling can come from the environment , but we shouldn’t neglect the people that dwell within the places we present and play in. Non-Player Characters are our vendors, our adversaries, our allies, our victims and our quest givers. At times they may just be part of the background, but without them our roleplaying games simply wouldn’t work. Interactions with NPCs can range anywhere from a brief visual description to a full-out member of y